Town Planning Review

Applying strategic planning to local economic development: the case of the Connemara Gaeltacht, Ireland

Town Planning Review (1990), 61, (4), 475


TPR, 61 (4) 1990 MICHEAL S. 6 CINNEIDE AND MICHAEL J. KEANE Applying strategic planning to local economic development The case of the Connemara Gaeltacht, Ireland Local communities are generally given little opportunity to influence the broad thrust of the economic development of their areas. This often leads to tension between developers and local residents. Adopting a strategic approach to local economic development planning can redress this situation as it affords an opportunity to all key local actors to collaborate in the formulation of an acceptable development plan. The ensuing development is also likely to be more sustainable than the set of uncoordinated projects which characterise traditional attempts at local economic development. This is so because strategically planned development is likely to be based primarily on local strengths and focused on emerging market opportunities. Rural communities are characteristically the object of top-down planning processes. Rarely, for example, are they given the opportunity to participate fully in the planning of local employment development strategies and projects. As a result, inappropriate policies have frequently been imposed on these communities. Not surprisingly the policies often fail to attain the desired goals, leading to widespread disillusionment at the local level with top-down strategies. It is now increasingly accepted that the superimposition of development edicts on rural areas has often been highly unsuccessful. It is imperative that rural residents are centrally involved in the planning of their areas, and indeed the European Commission, in its Bulletin on the future of rural society, acknowledged that the 'involvement of local and regional authorities and other social, local and regional economic interest groups in the identification of problems and the quest for solutions limits the number of errors of diagnosis that are all too common when planning is carried out from the outside." Thus, considerable changes in attitudes to economic planning in rural areas have transpired during the last decade. Previously, the all-important task of the planner was to draw up ambitious, well documented, centrally conceived plans, whereas today, planning is seen rather as a process that must operate, to a large extent, at the local level. This change may be described as a shift from top-down to 475 Copyright (c) 2005 ProQuest Information and Learning Company Copyright (c) Liverpool University Press

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Author details

Ó Cinnéide, Micheál S.

Keane, Michael J.